Over the years, the cheetah has become one of Africa’s most endangered cats. While the cheetah is built for speed and is considered the world’s fastest land animal, this species faces many threats.
Although cheetahs face habitat loss, decline in prey and cub mortality due to predators, numerous conservation efforts have taken place in order to save this unique animal. Founded in 1990, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) was created, and since then, the cheetah population has increased.
Recently, Brian Badger, operations manager of CCF, visited the Indianapolis Zoo to discuss the importance of cheetah conservation and then programs focusing on health and reproduction, ecological research and more. CCF recognizes that they cannot save this endangered species alone; therefore, they promote international collaboration in order to spread survival chances for cheetahs.The effect of CCF is incredible and it is due in large part to Dr. Laurie Marker. Ever since she started working with cheetahs in 1974, Marker has not stopped since. While she is founder of CCF, she also contributed to the U.S. and international captive program, which created the most thriving captive cheetah-breeding program in North America. Marker has also consulted with the Indianapolis Zoo on its Race-a-Cheetah exhibit, and has been a two-time finalist for the Indianapolis Prize.
With a mission to advance animal conservation, one of the Zoo’s many initiatives includes supporting CCF. The Zoo’s Race-a-Cheetah allows visitors to pay 50 cents to run on a track and to try to beat the speed of a cheetah. During this run, audio messages about the cheetah’s speed are played. All proceeds go to CCF, and so far, the Zoo has raised more than $50,000 for the foundation.